Laying My Burden Down

I am scared. Life is full of ups and downs. One moment things seem to be fine. Then the next everything changes. In these moments writing has always been very therapeutic for me. Therefore, I am going to let my fingers do the talking today.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Amanda and I have taken in a new foster child. This baby was born with the mosaic form of trisomy 18, which means some of his cells have three copies of chromosome 18 while other cells have two copies of chromosome 18. This defect in the cells can lead to a host of developmental problems. No one really knows precisely in which cells the chromosomal abnormalities are present.

Currently, Our Little Fighter’s only visible issue is a cleft lip, which makes feeding a little more difficult. His breathing is also a bit labored. However, he sleeps, poops, and pees just like any other baby. What scares me is that the prognosis for babies born with trisomy 18 is very poor. Only between 10-15% of children with this condition live past their first birthday.

Life has thrown a lot at us since December of 2019. That is when we first became foster parents. Shortly after that the world seemed to come to a standstill due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through this period my work life has changed a lot. The office where I work has lost two employees to retirement. One transferred to another office. Three others left to pursue other careers. Then, this past Tuesday I found out the manager of my office opted for early retirement and was gone the same day. Needless to say, there is a lot of uncertainty in life at the moment.

I wish I could say I knew how to deal with all of this better. Fortunately, Amanda and I have great support from family and friends. However, the uncertainty remains. We have had our first foster child for over 2.5 years now. To us he is our’s. I love him like I never knew that I could. He is still a ward of the state officially, which scares me more than anything else. Any day he could leave us and be given back to his birth parents.

I have to put all of this in God’s hands. Mine are not big enough to carry this load. He is faithful and just. My head says to trust Him and His will. However, my flesh is so very weak. My middle name is Thomas for good reason. I am filled with doubt on a daily basis.

There is an old spiritual song that has been covered by musicians across several genres of music. I believe I first became aware of the song via a recording done by Mississippi John Hurt, a blues musician who passed away in the mid 1960’s. The song is about laying down the hardships of life now and focusing on the good that is yet to come, especially in a spiritual sense.

This is something I still struggle with on a daily basis. Just when I go to “lay my burden down” I pick it right back up again. Hopefully, one of these days I’ll truly realize my hands are not big enough and I’ll “lay all of my my burdens down.” I do believe better days are ahead.

A Love Letter…

Amanda and I will have been married ten years in August. I feel blessed to call her my wife for so many reasons. She is such a caring person who has taught me a lot about life. Perhaps, the most important thing I have learned is to love those who are broken.

I was born with spina bifida, which has left my body broken. Despite this Amanda loves me unconditionally. Through this I have learned to see beauty in brokeness. Amanda has an ability to see the potential in things that I would just toss aside. This has often led me to dip my toes in waters I would never have dared if left to my own devices. For instance, approximately five years ago we entered the world of foster care.

Amanda and I began our foster care journey by taking classes to become licensed foster parents. At this point I was very apprehensive. Having worked with troubled teens as a school counselor, I was unsure I wanted to open our home to children who were considered “broken” in some way. However, I learned that leaving my comfort zone was not a bad thing at all. I am so fortunate that I did, otherwise, I would have missed a wonderful opportunity.

When we decided to open our home to foster children we were told to not expect a baby. However, the first child that came to us was a three-day-old baby boy. He since has become our world. I never expected to love a foster child as much as I do Baby Boy. Even though he is not our flesh and blood, he is our’s nonetheless. I could not imagine life without him now.

When I was born my parents were not sure how long I’d live, or what quality of life I’d have. They simply brought me home, loved me, and raised me as best as they knew how. They, like Amanda, were willing to see past my brokeness and love me.

Two weeks ago Amanda and I were contacted and asked if we would be willing to take in another foster child. This time it is a six-week-old boy, who was born with Trisomy 18 or Edwards Syndrome. In short, this is a disorder that causes a disruption in the normal pattern of development. These abnormalities are often life-threatening even before the baby is born. Likewise, they severely limit the lifespan of those with this syndrome. We don’t know how long this child will live. However, this is a life that needs love. This “broken” baby needs a home where he will be showered with love. With much thought and prayer we have decided to open our hearts to this new life.

No one knows what will happen. However, we have love to give to this baby. We also have the love and support of family and friends. Whatever happens we have assurance from God that this is His plan for us and for this child. Once again we step outside of our comfort zone. However, we know that love can overcome brokeness.

One thing that God has taught me time and time again is that where He leads His grace provides. God’s grace is always sufficient.

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